Council ready to begin ramp construction

Council ready to begin ramp construction

(August 8, 2014) City Council appears ready to go ahead with the construction of a single-lane boat ramp at 64th Street, given the lack of progress on sale negotiations and the excessive time scale of condemnation on the property that would be need otherwise.

Councilman Dennis Dare suggested this week that the city redesign the project into a single-lane ramp that would fit within the lots already owned by the town.

If the adjacent property was acquired, either through sale or condemnation, the city could always expand the project to the desired two-lane facility.

“In order to expedite the process and have a parallel track, I’d like to consider a motion to have the City Solicitor work with the City Engineer to have design permit applications within our current property lines for a single-lane boat ramp that is expandable, should we be successful in acquiring the land at a later date,” Dare said.

The idea was received favorably, and will go on a later council agenda for formal discussion and a final decision.

“In this case, we can’t even submit the permits until we reach an agreement with the property owner, or the condemnation finishes its course,” Dare noted.

Last week, the city sent notice to property owners Robert Kirchiro and Matin Maghsoudzadeh that it would be filing a condemnation case in Maryland Circuit Court against them.

The city’s offer of $25,000 for the needed land still stands, City Solicitor Guy Ayres said last week, although this is only a fraction of the owner’s asking price.

The property in question consists of 32 mostly submerged lots on the south side of 64th Street, for which Kirchiro paid $202,240 to his grandfather’s estate in 2007. Given the highly selective development potential, the lots were valued at half that for tax purposes – and Kirchiro and Maghsoudzadeh later petitioned to have the assessed value lowered to $10,000, much to the city’s skepticism.

But if condemnation were to go through, this small amount would be what Kirchiro and Maghsoudzadeh would get for the property, a value they say is appropriate for the land’s current taxable condition but far below its relative development value.

Kirchio has also fought the city over his accusations that the town has assisted Dead Freddie’s restaurant, represented by local developer and planning commissioner Peck Miller, in leveraging the threat of condemnation to get Kirchiro to lower his price on a sale to Dead Freddie’s.

The restaurant has been paying Kirchiro $5,000 per year to rent a portion of his land used for outdoor dining. Kirchiro’s land, although not buildable itself, would also confer density rights to an adjacent property. The city has expressed interest in obtaining an easement from Dead Freddie’s if a sale were to occur.

Although the State of Maryland will be paying for necessary dredging, the city will be paying entirely for the construction of the new ramp at 64th Street, which will essentially buy out the state’s stake in the current municipal boat ramp on Caribbean Drive near 87th Street.  Because that ramp was built with state funds, the city is currently limited as to how much it can charge for access and how much it can restrict use.

The ramp consistently loses money, and is a nuisance for the neighborhood around it. In order to fully relive pressure the Caribbean Drive facility, however, the new boat ramp will need to be two lanes.

The town borrowed $750,000 two years ago to help pay for the project, which is expected to total around $4 million, including state-funded dredging as well as the cost of the land previously purchased for the wastewater plant.

According to City Engineer Terry McGean, the state and federal permitting processes, once all designs are completed, typically takes an additional nine months, with construction expected to take another year to 18 months.

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